We're always trying to come up with new ways to involve our gamer community bloggers and podcasters. I wrote up one thing we did at a recent trade show, E3, to get some face time for independant bloggers/podcasters with our executive staff, who normally only speaks with mainstream press. Originally posted on Gamerscore Blog.
On Wednesday night, we held our first ever “speed interviews” sessions. Because E3 is such a short time with a lot of journalists and analysts, our executives were booked doing interviews or demos from 8am to 6pm, and every night there were meetings, parties, and other events that our executives were expected to attend. There just isn’t enough time in such a short period to include everyone who wanted one on one time with our execs.
We’ve done a few successful “blogger breakfast” sessions in the past, but we decided that doing a big, formal roundtable with several different might not be the best way to give our community members time with our execs. To keep it intimate, only a few sites were invited to the breakfast meetings, and even that format didn’t allow for much of a personal touch. Our community members didn’t get any one-on-one time with the executives, and didn’t let each site ask the questions for their particular communities (or were afraid of getting scooped if they did). The sites we invited tended to be the largest sites that really should be getting full appointments during the day (like Joystiq, Engadget, Kotaku, etc.), leaving out some of our most passionate community podcasters, bloggers, forum posters, and fan site owners. We know we invite everyone we can to our C3@E3 party, and our execs all love hanging out and chatting with community members there, but even a long conversation at a party doesn’t substitute for a formal interview.
We thought through the options, and figured that if speed dating could give you a feel for a possible “love connection” in a few minutes, maybe it would work for us not the love part, but maybe the “personal connection” part ;) ). Whether “speed interviews” was going to be a boom or a bust was anyone’s guess, but everyone liked the idea (at least in principle), so Tony, Chris, and April from our events staff set it up, and our executive staff agreed to give it a try.
Xbox.com posts a 360 degree panoramic view of the room.
We set up eight tables across a room, and had eight executives from different parts of our business sit at each one. The list included Peter Moore, Jeff Bell, Peter Molyneaux, Chris Early, Kevin Unangst, Aaron Greenberg, John Rodman, and Bungie’s Brian Gerard and Frank O’Connor.
Each group met for four minutes, then took one minute to move to the next table. After a round of eight interviews, we took a five minute break, and brought in eight more groups. I know four minutes doesn’t sound like much, but because each interviewer came prepared with questions, everyone jumped right in, and got to ask some questions nobody else had thought of. I haven’t seen any reports of the meetings, but everyone who participated thought it turned out great.
We hope our community leaders got to know our execs a little better, and gathered some unique information to report back to their community. We were able to try a format that got as many community members through as we could. Our execs got a break from the journalists and analysts they’d been meeting with all week, and had a chance to get to know some of our community leaders, and hear what their community members are asking.
I hope it gives you a glimpse of the value we all put on the community. We appreciate all your passion, your support, your suggestions, your patience when things go wrong, and even your criticisms. From our executives to all of us who dedicate all our time to supporting community, our games business wouldn’t be where it is without you. For those that couldn’t be there this time, you should know we’re always looking for more ways to involve all of you whenever we can.
I posted a few photos of the interviews on Flickr, and I’ll post links to the stories/write-ups/podcasts as I can.
[E3 2007] - 4 Minutes with Microsoft Execs
Xbox 360 Fanboy
X3F interview: 4 minutes in the dark with Peter Moore